Effectiveness of primary androgen-deprivation therapy for clinically localized prostate cancer

4 min


Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) is an effective palliative treatment for metastatic prostate cancer and is a useful treatment in certain clinical settings. However, despite not being recommended in professional guidelines, ADT is often used (in the USA) to treat clinically localised prostate cancer.

The effect of ADT on cause-specific and overall mortality has not been well established while evidence of adverse side effects of ADT has been accruing in recent years. Accurate mortality data can help to inform treatment decisions.


Given the increasing use of primary ADT and the risks of serious adverse effects, the aim of this study was to provide accurate mortality data for men diagnosed with clinically localised prostate cancer to assess the all-cause mortality effect of primary treatment with ADT.

The authors noted that other studies addressing similar questions have had various shortcomings.


This retrospective cohort study used utilisation and cancer registry data from three integrated health care plans in the USA that collect comprehensive data on diagnoses, clinical encounters, treatments and tumour-registry data.

Men who were diagnosed between 1995 and 2008, were not treated with curative intent therapy, and received follow-up until December 2010 were included in the study (n = 15,170; aged 35 years and older).

Primary ADT was defined as receipt of medical ADT for localised prostate cancer within the first 12 months of the diagnosis and without radiation or radical prostatectomy.

The main outcomes were all-cause and prostate cancer-specific mortality. Data analysis included Cox proportional hazards models with and without propensity score analysis.

For each outcome, adjustment was made for socio-demographic and clinical prognostic factors and 34 comorbidities.

Sub-group analyses were conducted to see if associations of ADT with mortality differed according to clinical subgroups defined by baseline PSA/Gleason score/clinical stage or age at diagnosis.


3,435 of the 15,170 men received ADT in the first 12 months; this group had worse prognostic factors but after adjusting for propensity scores, balance was achieved between groups. There were 4,921 deaths in the study, 32% from prostate cancer.

Overall, primary ADT was associated with neither all-cause mortality (hazard ratio [HR], 1.04; 95% CI, 0.97 to 1.11) nor prostate-cancer-specific mortality (HR, 1.03; 95% CI, 0.89 to 1.19) after adjusting for all sociodemographic and clinical characteristics.

Primary ADT was associated with decreased risk of all-cause mortality only among the subgroup of men with a high risk of cancer progression (HR, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.78 to 0.97) and with increased risk of overall mortality in men with low-risk prostate cancer (HR, 1.41; 95% CI, 0.99 to 1.82).


The study did not identify an all-cause or prostate cancer-specific mortality benefit from primary ADT compared with no primary ADT for men with clinically localised prostate cancer who did not receive curative intent therapy.

Men with higher-risk disease may derive a small clinical benefit from primary ADT. The authors claim their study provides the best available contemporary evidence on the lack of survival benefit from primary ADT for men with clinically localised prostate cancer and that clinical trials to answer this question are unlikely.

Given the risk of adverse effects from ADT, there is no clinical rationale for using ADT in this context.

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